Posted on

Barr Falls Apart When Pressed For Evidence Of Mail In Ballot Fraud

Attorney General William Barr was pressed for evidence to back up his claims of potential mail-in ballot fraud and he had nothing.

Transcript of Barr’s interview as provided to PoliticusUSA by NPR:

WB: “I think there’s a range of concerns about mail-in ballots. And let me just clarify here. I’m not talking about a mail-in ballot for a limited number of cases where somebody, you know, is going to be traveling around the world in the way that the state has provided for. That is you mail in your ballot. I’m talking about a comprehensive rule where all the ballots are essentially mail-in and there’s so many occasions for fraud there that cannot be policed. I think I think it would be very bad. But one of the things I mentioned was the possibility of counterfeiting.”

Steve Inskeep: “Did you have evidence to raise that specific concern?

WB: “No, it’s obvious. It’s obvious that it can be done. Of course, we got to a lot of quite. Why do you think we go to the problems we do in crafting single dollar bills? Because make it hard to counterfeit.”

SI: “Now, do they not also go through procedures like that with mail-in ballot?”

WB: “You’ve seen them. They’re pretty primitive.”

Audio of Barr on NPR’s All Things Considered:

The Attorney General of the United States went on a national interview and cast doubt about the safety of mail-in voting in an effort to delegitimize a potential Trump defeat in the presidential election.

William Barr is a walking abuse of power, and it is telling that when he was pressed for evidence to back up his completely unfounded theories about mail-in ballots, he had nothing to offer as proof.

Barr is using his authority as Attorney General to provide Trump with an excuse when/if he loses the election to Joe Biden.

Barr’s comments went beyond corrupt. They were undemocratic and an effort to undermine the integrity of the election.

For more discussion about this story join our Rachel Maddow and MSNBC group.

Follow Jason Easley on Facebook

Posted on

Jeremy Corbyn’s Opponents Burned the House Down to Stop Him — Now Keir Starmer Is King of the Ashes

It seemed a safe bet as the year began that British politics was about to enter into a period of calm. Instead, the COVID-19 pandemic has plunged Britain into a crisis without any precedent in the last century, combining the mortality rates of a conflict with the economic devastation of a global slump.

It’s far too early to say what the long-term political fallout of the pandemic will be. No developed capitalist state has gone through an economic crisis on this scale in tandem with mass fatalities and disruption to everyday life. To say we’re about to enter uncharted waters doesn’t do justice to the situation.

However, one thing is already clear. Under Keir Starmer’s leadership, the Labour Party is taking an approach that differs sharply in both style and content from that which followed Jeremy Corbyn after 2015. At a time when the gravity of the crisis demands a break with the status quo — for better or for worse — Labour is retreating from the ambitious reformist agenda developed under Corbyn.

The arguments made by Starmer and his shadow cabinet team over the public health crisis have already supplied ample evidence of that turn. But we’ve also seen how the new leadership intends to tackle some key issues that are internal to the Labour Party. Starmer has now set the seal on this political turn by sacking his leadership opponent Rebecca Long-Bailey from Labour’s shadow cabinet on trumped-up grounds.

This is no trivial matter for British politics. Without taking account of the information that’s come to light about Labour’s inner-party struggles, we can’t fully grasp how Britain came to be in its current position, with a manifestly incompetent crew of shysters and sociopaths responsible for the management of a catastrophe.

The first major development after Starmer took over as leader was the publication of a leaked report on the Labour Party’s internal culture. Party officials compiled the report under the supervision of Jennie Formby, Labour’s outgoing general secretary. It puts forward a devastating indictment of the party officials against whom Jeremy Corbyn had to struggle after 2015, backed up by voluminous evidence.

We’ll come to the particulars of that indictment in a moment. For now, it’s important to say why Formby ordered the report to be drafted in the first place. It was intended as a submission to the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), a government-funded body which is currently investigating Labour over allegations of “institutional antisemitism.”

The EHRC announced a formal investigation of the Labour Party at the end of May 2019, in response to submissions from two groups, the Campaign Against Antisemitism (CAA) and the Jewish Labour Movement (JLM). In the run-up to the 2019 election, Corbyn’s opponents repeatedly cited the fact that his party was now under investigation by an official body as a devastating blow against his leadership. They took the investigation itself to be proof of Labour’s guilt: no smoke without fire, as the saying goes.

Of course, this only held true if the EHRC itself was guided by the evidence when it decided whether or not to launch investigations into the conduct of political parties. The EHRC has now confirmed in the most emphatic way possible that this is not the case. Its criteria for launching investigations are strictly political, in the worst sense of the term.

That confirmation came on May 12, when the EHRC announced that it would not be investigating the Conservative Party for racism. The statement concluded a lengthy saga. The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) first asked the EHRC to investigate the Tories in May 2019. It repeated that request in November after receiving no reply. Once again, the EHRC kicked the issue into touch.

The Conservative Party is racist in every conceivable way. Its leader Boris Johnson has a history of inciting racism against British Muslims, as do some of his senior cabinet colleagues, and the party ran an openly racist campaign against Sadiq Khan in the 2016 London mayoral election. Johnson’s predecessor David Cameron used parliamentary privilege to lie about a British imam, falsely claiming that he was a supporter of ISIS in order to taint Khan by association.

A poll conducted last year found that nearly two-thirds of Conservative Party members believed Islam to be a “threat to Western civilization.” 43 percent said they could not accept the idea of a Muslim prime minister. It beggars belief that the EHRC could see all this and still hesitate before starting an investigation.

By dragging its heels, the EHRC ensured that the Tories would go into last year’s election campaign without the stigma of being officially investigated for racism. Several months after the horse had bolted, the Commission was still unable to decide whether it was going to shut the stable door. The MCB submitted a new dossier in March 2020, with exhaustive documentation of Tory racism, but the EHRC could only say that it was “actively considering what, if any, action” it might take. Two months later, it ceased “actively considering” anything and authorized the Conservative Party to investigate itself.

To describe this as a case of double standards would be the understatement of the decade. It is objectively impossible for anyone to believe that the Labour Party merits investigation for racism, yet the Tories do not. Instead of defending the rights of ethnic minorities, the EHRC is functioning as a protective shield for racism in high places.

Disgraceful as this may be, it’s not difficult to understand why it should be the case. The EHRC does not exist in a vacuum, after all. Most of Britain’s private media outlets support the Conservative Party, and even the ones that don’t were bitterly hostile to Jeremy Corbyn.

If the EHRC announced an investigation into the Tories, it would be setting itself up for relentless flak from the Tory press. It faced no such backlash when it put Labour in the spotlight. One path leads to brickbats, the other leads to praise. One might as well ask why more people go to Spain than Scotland for their beach holidays.

We can therefore dispose of the idea that the investigation itself constitutes proof of guilt for Corbyn’s Labour Party. Needless to say, the EHRC’s track record doesn’t constitute proof of innocence, either. After all, following the path of least resistance can sometimes lead you to the right destination, purely by chance. This is where the leaked Labour report comes in.

For those who don’t have time to read the full thing — it’s over 800 pages long — Novara have published an excellent series of articles summarizing its most important findings. To the extent that mainstream British journalists have acknowledged the report at all, the usual response has been to belittle its significance, playing down the contents as tittle-tattle, which in any case has no connection to the party’s handling of antisemitism.

This approach is brazenly disingenuous. The report punches a series of holes in the dominant media narrative about the Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn. The only way for journalists who promoted that narrative to deal with the challenge is to put their fingers in their ears.

Three main points emerge from the report. First of all, the officials who controlled Labour’s party machine until Jennie Formby took over in 2018 were bitterly hostile to Corbyn and the Labour left. They desperately wanted Corbyn to fail, and responded to the party’s electoral advance in 2017 as if they had experienced a personal bereavement.

For many Corbyn supporters, this revelation came as little surprise. They had seen the way that Labour’s right-wing element acted before, during, and after the 2017 campaign. If they needed visual confirmation, they could watch the clip of Labour MP dumbstruck with horror at the sight of the exit poll, which revealed that Labour had deprived the Conservatives of their majority.

But it’s still bracing to read the messages exchanged between party officials on election night, describing their own reactions to the poll: “stunned and reeling,” “silent and grey-faced,” “in need of counselling,” and — most striking of all — “opposite to what I had been working towards for the last couple of years!” It’s not so much a smoking gun as a detailed confession signed by all the defendants.

Secondly, their hostility to Jeremy Corbyn clearly stemmed from profound ideological disagreements rather than concerns about “electability.” Corbyn’s speech after the Manchester terrorist bombing during the 2017 campaign encapsulated this division between opposing worldviews.

Two party officials, Jo Greening and Francis Grove-White, were horrified by the thought of what Corbyn was planning to say. Greening hoped that it would cause the party grave electoral damage: “With a bit of luck this speech will show a clear polling decline and we shall all be able to point out how disgusting they truly are.”

Grove-White was worried that Corbyn’s perspective “won’t go down as badly as it deserves to, thanks to the large groundswell of ill-informed opposition to Western interventions.” Greening reassured him that there was no cause for concern: “In the face of a terror attack normal people do not blame foreign intervention, they blame immigration.”

As it turned out, Grove-White was right to be apprehensive: British public opinion overwhelmingly endorsed Corbyn’s analysis. 53 percent agreed with the statement that “wars the UK has supported or fought ARE responsible, at least in part, for terror attacks against the UK”; just 24 percent disagreed. The same poll showed pluralities of voters agreeing with Corbyn’s opposition to every war that Britain has fought in the Middle East since 1991 (rising to 55 percent for the invasion of Iraq in 2003 — just 18 percent thought it was the right thing to do).

The Manchester speech was one of the most hopeful moments for public debate in any Western country since 9/11. It shattered the conventional wisdom about the way left-wing politicians have to approach questions of national security. But some of the officials who received generous salaries from the Labour Party to help maximize its vote would have preferred to see “normal people” blame immigrants for terrorism instead.

Thirdly, the report contains alarming documentation of the attitudes held by party officials. Their position on racism towards black people could most generously be described as complacent (some might want to use stronger adjectives). Three of the officials — including Emilie Oldknow, who had been Starmer’s choice to replace Jennie Formby as general secretary — expressed their horror when Corbyn appointed a black Labour MP, Dawn Butler, to his shadow cabinet. Butler’s main sin appears to have been suggesting that the Labour Party itself had issues with racism.

Another party official, Patrick Heneghan, discovered that Corbyn’s ally Diane Abbott was crying in a toilet cubicle, having been overwhelmed by the sheer volume of racist and sexist abuse that she was receiving online. Instead of expressing sympathy with Abbott, Heneghan boasted that he had passed on this juicy piece of gossip to a television reporter.

Most striking of all is the evidence — carefully summarized by Charlotte England in this article — that Labour officials in charge of the party’s disciplinary process were at best profoundly incompetent in their handling of antisemitism complaints. This is a vital point, because the very same officials appeared on the BBC’s flagship documentary slot Panorama in the guise of “whistleblowers,” accusing Corbyn and his associates of having sabotaged their efforts to root out antisemitism in the party.

This is not the first time John Ware’s documentary has been called into question. The Labour Party issued a strong rebuttal as soon as it was aired in July 2019, showing that the program-makers had distorted the meaning of emails from the leader’s office. Ware’s choice of “experts” could only be described as outlandish: he presented Alan Johnson, who works for Britain’s leading pro-Israel campaigning group, BICOM (Britain Israel Communications and Research Centre), as a neutral academic authority on antisemitism (in particular, its alleged overlap with left-wing criticism of Israel). The Media Reform Coalition listed “a catalogue of reporting failures” in the documentary that violated the BBC’s editorial guidelines.

However, none of this had much impact on public discourse. As far as the British media was concerned, Panorama crashed through the arguments of the Labour leadership like Boris Johnson at the wheel of a bulldozer. The anguished testimony of its “whistleblowers” brings to mind an infamous line from the Simpsons: “Your tears say more than real evidence ever could.”

To put this controversy in its proper context, it’s important to remember the wider political scene in July 2019. Theresa May had failed to push her Brexit deal through parliament and resigned after the European elections, in which both main parties took a hammering at the hands of pro- or anti-Brexit forces. Boris Johnson was about to become Tory leader, having promised to “get Brexit done” in the hardest possible form.

That was more than enough for the Labour leadership to worry about, as they shifted towards a policy of support for a second referendum on Brexit that posed grave dangers for Labour-held seats in Leave-supporting areas. And yet they had to deal at the same time with a manufactured controversy cooked up by factional opponents within their own party.

For all the importance attached to it by the British media, the Panorama documentary only accounted for one part of that false narrative. Jennie Formby was able to show that the documentary’s claims were diametrically at odds with reality: far from protecting antisemites in the Labour Party through malice or neglect, Formby had substantially increased the number of people expelled for antisemitism after taking over from Iain McNicol in April 2018.

The fresh evidence of negligent behavior by the old guard adds substance to a picture that was already apparent from emails published last year and commented upon by Momentum’s Jon Lansman:

Former compliance unit officials from the Labour Right may have delayed action on some of the most extreme and high-profile antisemitism cases, including Holocaust denial, allowing a backlog of cases to build up that would damage the party and Jeremy’s leadership . . . these emails now expose that the party bureaucracy when under the control of Labour’s right even went so far as to turn a blind eye to antisemitism, to destabilize Jeremy’s leadership. And this is partly why the party has not yet managed to get to grips with this problem.

However, it’s important to put the question of party discipline in perspective, because we are still talking about a tiny proportion of the Labour Party membership. According to Formby’s figures, disciplinary panels heard 274 cases “relating to antisemitism” in 2019; 149 members were expelled or left the party before the proceedings concluded. As a proportion of the total membership — 520,000 — that adds up to a little under 0.03 percent.

When academic researchers asked members of the public to guess what percentage of the Labour membership had been disciplined for antisemitism, the average estimate was one-third — a thousand times greater than the actual figure for 2019, and scarcely less absurd if all the disciplinary cases from 2015 onwards are added up together. One could hardly blame them for getting it so wrong, if they had been relying on the British media to convey an accurate picture.

The Labour leadership also had to deal with prominent figures in their own party — not least its deputy leader Tom Watson — grossly and maliciously exaggerating the scale of the problem. As Jennie Formby wrote in a letter to Watson, soon after the Panorama documentary went on air:

By choosing to ignore the steps taken by this party, and commenting so uncritically about the Panorama programme, you are complicit in creating a perception that antisemitism is more prevalent in the Labour Party than wider society. This is deeply irresponsible for the deputy leader of a party which seeks to be in Government, and risks exacerbating the fear that Jewish communities will feel.

Shortly after Formby composed that letter, the Observer interviewed Emily Thornberry, a prominent member of Corbyn’s shadow cabinet. The interviewer, Rachel Cooke, started off by asking “how much longer the vast majority of Labour MPs intend to put up with the stench that currently rises from their party.” For Cooke, Labour’s detailed rebuttal of the Panorama documentary constituted further proof of its guilt: “The denial goes on.”

Jennie Formby had recently taken a break from cancer treatment to brief the shadow cabinet on Labour’s response to the EHRC investigation. Tom Watson attended the briefing, said nothing, then went on to compose an open letter, demanding answers to a whole series of questions that he hadn’t bothered to ask Formby in person. The Unite trade-union leader Len McCluskey spoke for many when he described Watson as a “fucking disgrace.”

But not for Rachel Cooke, who pointedly asked Emily Thornberry if she didn’t think it was “a bit cheap of McCluskey to deploy Formby’s cancer in the way that he did?” Thornberry delicately set her straight:

She took a break from her chemo and gave a presentation on antisemitism and what was happening. I asked her some questions. She looked glorious, but she had no hair, and we know how ill she is, and from what I can remember Tom didn’t ask her any questions — and then he writes a public letter having a go at her. On a human level, I just don’t think it’s right.

For Britain’s liberal broadsheets, Tom Watson was a man who combined the virtues of Harold Wilson, Brian Clough, and Mother Teresa, so this devastating character-portrait could not be allowed to stand. Cooke insisted that Thornberry couldn’t really mean what she had said, and must have been hoping to curry favor with McCluskey ahead of a future leadership bid.

This interview is worth dwelling on, not because it was exceptional, but because it wasn’t. There’s no reason to think that Rachel Cooke is an especially callous person: she was merely channelling the house orthodoxy of her own paper and its sister title. This adulation of Watson reached a farcical apotheosis shortly after Christmas last year, when the Guardian trumpeted Watson’s claim to have stepped down as a Labour MP because he found the “brutality” of Corbyn and his associates intolerable.

If José Mourinho announced that he was retiring from football management because the cynical gamesmanship of Pep Guardiola and Jürgen Klopp was too much to bear, the derisive hooting of the nation’s sportswriters would be audible from space. But an equally preposterous claim from Watson, a notorious factional bruiser with a taste for the dark arts, can be reported with the utmost solemnity.

Formby decided to step down as general secretary after Corbyn’s departure, instead of remaining in her position for as long as possible to wage a war of attrition against the Labour right, just as Iain McNicol did against the Labour left. One might regret that choice in political terms, but it’s hard to reproach her on a personal level.

Tom Watson took advantage of the fact that Formby was undergoing chemotherapy to drag her name through the mud. A liberal journalist saw this happening in plain sight, and still managed to insinuate that it was Formby and her defenders who had done something wrong, with specific reference to her cancer. Who on earth would want to carry on working in such a toxic environment, after the possibility of doing something constructive with the Post had largely evaporated?

There was never really a campaign against antisemitism in the Labour Party — there was a campaign to brand Corbyn and his supporters as antisemites, which is something very different. That campaign relied upon the debating tactic known as the Gish gallop, in honor of the creationist ideologue Duane Gish. Gish would wheel out a whole series of false or misleading claims, each of which took longer to refute than to make, in the hope of bamboozling his audience.

In this case, we would have to imagine a debate where Gish had several hours to make his case, with the assistance of a megaphone, while his opponents had a few minutes for rebuttal at the end, struggling to make their voices heard over a chorus of booing. Journalists and politicians have repeated the main points of this particular gallop so many times that they’ve hardened into conventional wisdom, despite their inherent fatuity.

Reflecting on Corbyn’s leadership in the pages of the New Statesman, the ex-Labour MP Phil Wilson blamed Corbyn for his difficulties with the media: “If you don’t want the press to write you are a terrorist sympathizer, don’t lay a wreath at the grave of a terrorist.” Wilson was referring, of course, to the controversy about Corbyn’s presence at a 2014 ceremony in Tunisia. The Daily Mail accused the Labour leader of laying a wreath for the PLO commander Salah Khalaf, better known as Abu Iyad, and the matter quickly passed into legend.

As it happens, Corbyn didn’t lay a wreath for Khalaf, but so what if he had? Khalaf was accused of helping plan the Black September attack at the 1972 Munich Olympics (with characteristic disregard for trifles of fact, the Jewish Labour Movement’s EHRC submission denounced Corbyn for “laying a wreath next to the graves of Black September terrorists, who murdered Israeli Olympic athletes in 1972” — the actual hostage-takers are buried in a different country, Libya). Abu Daoud, who certainly did help organize the Munich attack, stated that Khalaf was involved — but he also testified that the current Palestinian National Authority president Mahmoud Abbas took part in the planning.

If Khalaf is beyond the pale, then logically the same principle must apply to Abbas. The idea that Khalaf was an irredeemable terrorist with whom no decent person could associate had to be retrospectively concocted by the British media to justify another round of shrill polemics about Jeremy Corbyn’s moral depravity. In fact, Khalaf was one of the chief architects of the PLO’s peace strategy in the late 1980s, before agents of Saddam Hussein murdered him in 1991. Dovish, center-left Israeli politicians welcomed his conciliatory message to the Israeli people in 1989.

The following year, Foreign Policy published an article by Khalaf in which he expressed the PLO’s support for a two-state peace settlement:

A unitary, binational state cannot be built without the acquiescence of both communities; and if it is established by force against the will of one of the two, it cannot stand the test of time. The day may come when the Jews of Israel and the Arabs of Palestine, their mutual trust nurtured by a period of peaceful, prosperous and cooperative coexistence, decide that their interests lie in some form of union. But unless and until that day comes, both peoples’ interests would be served best if each went its separate way.

Corbyn’s detractors generally claim to be in favor of a “two-state solution,” yet they anathemize a man who used all the authority of his track record — including his role in Black September — to argue for Palestinian acceptance of an Israeli state.

Needless to say, the British commentariat never applies the “terrorist” label to Israeli politicians with a record of violence against civilians far in excess of anything that Khalaf could be accused of. David Cameron and Tony Blair attended the funeral of Ariel Sharon — Blair even praised Sharon as “a giant of this land” — without facing any backlash from respectable opinion-formers.

Beneath the double standard lurks a single, racist standard. Jeremy Corbyn never internalized the principle that Palestinian lives are worth less than Israeli lives: one Israeli death is a tragedy, a thousand Palestinian deaths are a statistic. For much of the “Labour antisemitism” controversy, anti-Palestinian racism served as a load-bearing wall. Without that underlying assumption, many of the attacks against Corbyn and his allies would have crumbled.

The Daily Mail recently had to pay a large sum in damages to the Palestinian Return Centre (PRC), a British-based group, after publishing false claims about the PRC in the course of another anti-Corbyn hit job. The Mail’s error was to defame a particular organization that could sue for libel. If it was possible for an entire people to sue collectively, the Palestinians could easily bankrupt the British newspaper industry.

Not content with enshrining anti-Palestinian racism as part of the consensus view in British politics, at a time when Israel’s political mainstream brazenly denies the right of Palestine to exist, Corbyn’s factional opponents have even chosen to promote antisemitism themselves. That’s the only way to describe a claim made by the Labour MP Wes Streeting in a pamphlet setting out his stall for the post-Corbyn era:

Labour’s antisemitism crisis stems from a worldview that puts Jews or Zionists at the center of a global capitalist conspiracy working to create a rigged system that works for the wealthiest few at the expense of the many. It was this worldview that voters found repulsive and that we must comprehensively abandon.

This theory is no innovation of Streeting’s: the Guardian columnists Jonathan Freedland and John Harris have previously expressed it in print. In March 2019, Harris claimed that the Labour Party “now tends to present the very real failings of modern capitalism not as a matter of anything systemic, but the work of a small group of people who are ruining things for the rest: what Corbyn calls a ‘self-serving elite,’ who ‘monopolize the wealth that should be shared by each and every one of us.’” According to Harris, this could only result in the scapegoating of Jewish people.

It’s difficult to convey in words how pernicious this line of argument really is. The speech of Corbyn’s that Harris singled out for rebuke was in fact a boilerplate exercise in left-populist rhetoric. It could have been delivered by any politician standing up to the power of big business, from Franklin Roosevelt to Pablo Iglesias. There is absolutely no reason to think that Corbyn had Jewish people in mind when he spoke about “the cosy cartels that are hoarding this country’s wealth for themselves.” Nor is there any evidence that his supporters understood it in that way.

To give a thoroughly cynical and meretricious talking-point more engagement than it deserves: at a very abstract level, we might say that capitalism can reproduce itself without any need for human agency. In practice, that’s not how the system works. Individuals like Jeff Bezos exercise agency in a very real and tangible way — for example, by deciding to sack union organizers while reaping a fortune from the COVID-19 lockdown. Amazon may still be subject to certain structural imperatives that even Bezos cannot overcome. But it is not a price-taking firm in an idealized world of perfect competition.

In any case, there is no contradiction between a systemic analysis of the British economy — something that was central to Labour’s campaigning platform, as John Harris knew perfectly well — and sharp condemnation of the individuals who appear as the personification of structural forces. When left-wingers called for bankers to be jailed after the 2008 crash, it was meant to be a complement to structural change, not a substitute for it, and it certainly did not imply a belief that the financial system was basically healthy.

The arguments made by Streeting, Freedland, Harris, and others only make sense if they believe that Jews actually do play a disproportionate role in the functioning of modern capitalism. In the guise of opposing antisemitism, they are promoting a deeply antisemitic conflation, forcibly conscripting Jewish people into the role of human shields for our economic system. If antisemitism really was a matter of great concern for the British media, these individuals would be driven out of public life before their feet could touch the ground.

The “Labour antisemitism” narrative has already done incalculable harm to public debate about racism in Britain. For one thing, it has probably given many people from ethnic-minority groups the mistaken impression that antisemitism is taken more seriously than other forms of racism. In fact, we have already seen that antisemitism gets a free pass so long as it comes from the political right and targets liberal and left-wing Jews. Conservative MPs can promote antisemitic conspiracy theories about George Soros and “cultural Marxism” without fear of sanction.

This culture of impunity reached a nadir during the 2019 election campaign, when the Sun’s political editor Tom Newton Dunn promoted a far-right hit list drawn directly from neo-Nazi sources. At a time when charges of antisemitism dominated the news agenda, a prominent journalist could channel readers to a group called Aryan Unity without exciting the interest of his colleagues. Apart from a Guardian opinion column by a freelance contributor, Britain’s mainstream media outlets left the matter well alone.

The response of the British right to anti-racist protests bears the stamp of this toxic campaign. Conservative Party supporters now feel emboldened to claim that left-wingers are the real racists (and in this context, that clearly means “anti-white”). Risible as such claims may be, these knuckle-dragging xenophobes are just following a lead from people higher up the food chain.

After all, it’s barely six months since a motley crew of celebrities signed an open letter urging people not to vote for Labour, supposedly because of concerns about antisemitism. They issued no such appeal against a vote for the Conservatives, implicitly granting their approval to the party of Windrush and the “hostile environment.” Instead of being laughed out of town, these pompous hypocrites received front-page treatment from the liberal press.

Keir Starmer was not responsible for any of this. But his leadership campaign proved to be its indirect beneficiary. It didn’t really matter whether people believed that Jeremy Corbyn had done more to inflame antisemitism than any politician since the Second World War (as one of John Ware’s alleged “whistleblowers” suggested last year). The long-running saga fed into damaging perceptions of Corbyn as an incompetent leader: he was always in trouble, always embroiled in controversy about issues that seemed obscure to the average person, and always at odds with senior figures in his own party.

One of the most revealing comments on this protracted affair came from the New Statesman journalist Stephen Bush, shortly after the election was over: “Very few conversations I had during this campaign about antisemitism were about it as a moral failing, but as [a] ‘why hasn’t he sorted this thing yet?’ failing.” (Tellingly, Bush made this point as an aside in a Twitter thread, not in a published article.) A question like that appears superficially reasonable — “if he can’t put this to bed, how does he expect to run the country?” — but ignores the fact that Corbyn’s opponents had successfully defined the problem in a way that made it impossible to “sort.”

There was a coda of sorts to John Ware’s Panorama documentary in April 2020, when a consortium took over the ailing Jewish Chronicle newspaper and kept its editor Stephen Pollard in his post. Pollard has turned the Chronicle into a right-wing propaganda sheet with a costly track record of publishing falsehoods about his political opponents. He directed its fire against Corbyn from the earliest stages of his leadership and played a significant role in constructing the overall narrative.

The head of the consortium was Robbie Gibb, erstwhile director of communications for Theresa May. It also included the ex-Labour MP John Woodcock — who resigned from the party in a haze of controversy and campaigned for a Tory victory last December — and none other than John Ware himself. Gibb, Woodcock and Ware clearly believe that Stephen Pollard and his Muslim-baiting columnists have a valuable role to play.

The BBC even nominated Ware’s Potemkin village for a prestigious BAFTA award, the institutional equivalent of flicking triumphant V signs at Labour supporters after the broadcaster’s egregious display in last year’s election campaign. American readers might like to imagine a scenario in which the New York Times submitted Judith Miller’s reporting to the Pulitzer judges instead of apologizing to their readers. A more fitting verdict came from academic research that revealed a staggering decline in trust for the media among left-leaning voters: from 46 percent in 2015 and 38 percent at the start of 2019 to just 15 percent today.

In his pitch for the Labour leadership, Starmer promised incompatible things: to keep the greater part of Labour’s 2017 and 2019 manifestos, while unifying the party and forging a better relationship with the press. Reeling from the election defeat and worn down by years of infighting, the majority of Labour members decided to buy what he was selling.

The leaked report, which only surfaced after Starmer was home and dry, shows in exhaustive detail exactly why the Labour Party was so divided after 2015. When Starmer spoke of “unity,” his intention was to reward the guilty parties for their behavior — and this is the point at which he does become culpable.

The report itself may have derailed Starmer’s plan to appoint Emilie Oldknow as general secretary, but his inquiry into its contents is a transparent whitewash. By brushing the report under the carpet and pressing Jennie Formby to resign, Starmer has sent a clear message to the EHRC: Labour’s new leadership won’t put up any serious defence of the party’s record. After Oldknow’s eclipse, Starmer pushed through the appointment of an equally partisan Labour-right apparatchik, David Evans.

If the EHRC publishes a report that is a tissue of lies from start to finish, most of the British media won’t bat an eyelid. But it can also deliver a more elegant stitch-up, identifying some minor failings and transgressions — which are sure to be present in any large bureaucratic organization — and exaggerating their significance in the executive summary (an approach already pioneered back in 2016 by the report of Westminster’s Home Affairs Committee on antisemitism in British politics).

Starmer’s evident desire to placate the Labour right will come with a hefty price tag in terms of political orientation. Already Labour MPs have started grumbling that they had to vote against xenophobic immigration laws: “a significant number of us were incandescent at the whip,” one backbencher claimed. Starmer probably won’t face the same kind of open mutiny as Corbyn, but that’s because a strategy of attrition is likely to be more effective in chipping away at residual left-wing policy commitments.

Meanwhile, Starmer has sacked his left-wing opponent Rebecca Long-Bailey from the shadow cabinet on a farcical pretext. Long-Bailey had shared an interview with the actress Maxine Peake, a prominent Labour supporter who campaigned tirelessly for the party in the last two general elections. Peake noted in passing that the Israeli military provides training for US police forces — a well-established fact that underlines the elective affinity between two forms of state racism.

Claims that Long-Bailey was promoting an “antisemitic conspiracy theory” should be dismissed with the contempt they so richly merit. Long-Bailey’s critics are the ones guilty of antisemitism, by holding Jewish people collectively responsible for the actions of the Israeli state. At a time when Benjamin Netanyahu’s government is preparing the formal annexation of the occupied territories, such tawdry exercises in mudslinging are the only thing Israel’s supporters can offer in its defence.

In any case, Starmer was clearly grasping for the first excuse he could find to remove Long-Bailey from her post as shadow education secretary. It may have been a relatively marginal role, but Long-Bailey’s presence in Starmer’s front-bench team still made it more difficult for him to shift right — for example, by siding with Boris Johnson against teachers over the reopening of schools.

The Labour leadership has also signalled its intention to move away from the Green New Deal platform that Long-Bailey helped devise. As Owen Hatherley pointed out, Long-Bailey was the candidate who actually possessed the “forensic” policymaking skills that Starmer’s enthusiasts credited him with: she was well-placed to carry on the work of John McDonnell, developing a left-wing economic program that’s adapted for modern conditions. Instead, Labour has an empty suit with a vision spliced together from focus groups.

Ultimately, the idea of “Labour antisemitism” in the British media — like the “Bernie Bros” narrative in the United States — was a placeholder for the real message that media outlets wanted to put across: we don’t consider this politician and his supporters to be legitimate, and we’ll churn out a limitless supply of disinformation to prevent their arguments from being heard. If they want to achieve anything in politics, they’ll have to wade knee-deep through a thick sludge of our nonsense.

Neither Corbyn nor Bernie Sanders were able to overcome the opposition they faced, for multiple reasons in both cases. In Britain, the Labour left is going to be on the defensive for the foreseeable future, and one of its main tasks will be resisting attempts to rewrite the history of the past five years in the most shameless manner — a process that is already well underway.

Soon after the election, Andy Beckett warned against dismissing what Corbyn had achieved, and rejected glib comparisons between Labour’s infamous 1983 election defeat and its more recent setback:

Unlike [Michael] Foot, Corbyn won the support of a cohort of voters that will only become more important. According to the Conservative pollster Michael Ashcroft, last week Labour received almost three times as many votes from the under-35s as the Tories. In 1983, the Tories led Labour comfortably in this group . . . Labour’s youthful support, and policies addressing what are by common consent the biggest contemporary issues — the climate emergency, the inadequacies of the modern economy and Britain’s proliferating social crises — suggest a party with the potential to do much better at future elections.

You’ll struggle to hear good sense like that over the conformist din, but this kind of insight is vital to keep hold of.

Meanwhile, the best epitaph for Corbyn’s inner-party opponents comes from one of their own: Gavin Shuker, the Labour MP who helped form a new party, Change UK, at the start of 2019, with the goal of preventing a left-wing government. Many of Shuker’s fellow MPs agreed that Corbyn had to be stopped at all costs, but refrained from joining his splinter group on tactical grounds.

Looking back on a now defunct party, and the wreckage of his own parliamentary career, Shuker consoled himself with the thought that it had all been worth it:

People might ask me in 30 years “what did you achieve in your time in politics.” I’m no fan of this government obviously. But still, I will be able to say I helped prevent Jeremy Corbyn from leading us through a huge national crisis. And to be honest, I’ll take that.

Shuker wasn’t just speaking for himself or his Change UK colleagues. He was unquestionably speaking for a host of influential figures who preferred a Tory government to one led by Jeremy Corbyn: from Tom Watson and Margaret Hodge, to Iain McNichol and Emilie Oldknow. They look at the record of Britain’s Tory government — the vertiginous death toll, the normalization of prejudice, the sheer wanton cruelty — and congratulate themselves on a job well done. This is what they wanted; this is the world they made.

Posted on

Roger Stone ‘Praying Fervently’ For Trump To Commute His Sentence, Pardon Him

In an exclusive interview with “The Sara Carter Show” Thursday, Trump-ally Roger Stone asked President Donald Trump for a commutation of his “deep state sentence.” Stone, who was convicted and sentenced to 40 months in prison in February for witness intimidation and lying to Congress about the debunked Russian collusion investigation, is set to report to prison next Tuesday, June 30.

Stone told Carter that his fight for freedom now rests in the President’s hands. “Look, this is going to be up to the President,” he said. “In my opinion, I believe that Judge Jackson will rule against me. I believe that I think the only person at that juncture who can save me is, the President through an act of clemency, either a commutation of my sentence, which would be fine, or perhaps a pardon. But, you know, either one works for me.”

Stone added that he’s “happy to fight this out in my appeal,” but if the public wants to help they can sign a petition to the President at ‘FreeRogerStone.com’ and help alleviate the $2 million financial burden of his legal battle at ‘stonedefensefund.com.’ Additionally, he said, his family fund at ‘StoneFamilyFund.com’ was established to help his family pay their rent, groceries, and gasoline.

“65,000 Great Americans have stepped forward to help me finance this epic struggle for freedom against the Deep State,” he said.

“At the end of the day, I think it’s going to be in the President’s lap that he is the only one who can save me, and I’m just praying fervently that he will do the right thing,” Stone explained. “Based on his tweets, he knows that I have been subjected to a miscarriage of justice. He knows that there was jury corruption and the bias of the judge in my case. He knows the judge attacked him repeatedly in her sentencing remarks. In this diatribe at the end of my trial, so to the extent that people can, please, Mr President, I’m going to need your help. I’m praying fervently for it. I think at the end of the day, I’m praying the President will do the right thing.”

But, Stone, 67, who has been fighting to clear his name in the courts, says he’s not only concerned with what his “wrongful” conviction could mean for the future of the justice system in this country, but he’s also fearful over going to prison during a pandemic as a person with a history of underlying health conditions and someone who is classified as an at-risk age category.

Stone highlighted that because of his age, he is considered at high risk for exposure to the novel coronavirus, which is spreading throughout the country and in prisons, which are considered hotbeds for it.

In some cases, nonviolent criminals are being released from prison to serve their sentences from home. That includes Michael Avenatti, porn star Stormy Daniels’ lawyer, who was released in April to serve 90 days of what could be up to a 20-year sentence from home. Avenatti was found guilty on all charges of extorting $25 million from athletic brand Nike.

Similarly, former Trump Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort and former Trump attorney Michael Cohen were released to serve their sentences from home in May. The moves followed an order by Attorney General William Barr, who directed the Bureau of Prisons to release “vulnerable” inmates deemed nonviolent in the midst of a pandemic.

“It’s really extraordinary,” Stone said. “So Michael Cohen, who was the convicted, you know, who pled to tax evasion and other crimes and then became an anti-trump witness for Mueller. He’s been sprung on home confinement. Rick Gates, Manafort’s ex-partner, lied at my trial under oath that will come out an appeal if I live that long. He has been sprung on home confinement, but it’s 67 years old with a history of asthma and a few other underlying health issues. They have told me that I must report to a prison in Jesup, Georgia, next Tuesday. No later than noon.”

Stone continued, “Flynn filed an earlier emergency motion with Judge Amy Berman Jackson, who presided over his case and who Stone says “showed great hostility to me, who attacked me personally in her closing sentencing remarks,” in what stone added was “A 55-minute tirade in which she said him all of the things. There was nothing phony about the Mueller investigation. Wrong, you were convicted of lying to cover up for Donald Trump. That is not what I was charged with or what I was convicted of.”

Posted on

Mayim Bialik teams with DC Entertainment for series of educational superhero comic books

The Big Bang Theory” star Mayim Bialik is staying within the nerd culture realm with a new partnership with DC Entertainment to help teach kids the power of science through comics.

DC Entertainment announced Thursday that Bialik will collaborate with popular comic writers and illustrators on a story collection that features characters like Wonder Woman, Batman, Superman, The Flash and others in search of such mysteries such as why polar ice melts and what can be found at the bottom of the sea.

The announcement describes the project, titled “Flash Facts,” as “a lighthearted middle grade graphic novel anthology.”

‘FULLER HOUSE’ STAR ANDREA BARBER ‘ALMOST RAN OVER’ ‘BIG BANG THEORY’ STAR MAYIM BIALIK BY ACCIDENT

“Geared toward readers ages 8-12, this collection of short stories is curated by award-winning actress and author Mayim Bialik and aligns with Next Generation Science Standards, providing a helpful bridge between the S.T.E.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) lessons taught inside the classroom and how these principles affect our everyday lives,” the announcement notes.

Actress Mayim Bialik is teaming with DC Entertainment for a series of educational comic books.
(Photo by Scott Dudelson/Getty Images)

“Flash Facts” will come out in February 2021 and is currently available for preorder.

‘BIG BANG THEORY’ STAR MAYIM BIALIK REVEALS SHE WOULDN’T STEAL ANYTHING FROM SET AHEAD OF THE FINALE

Bialik herself is a neuroscientist and author whose previous books include “Beyond the Sling” and “Girling Up.” She previously co-starred in CBS’ smash-hit sitcom “Big Bang Theory,” which aired its series finale in May 2019, as Amy Farrah Fowler. A month after the finale, the actress shared a post joking about what “unemployment” was like in the wake of the show ending.

'Big Bang Theory' actress Bialik is teaming with DC Entertainment on a project that joins superhero power to the power of science. 

‘Big Bang Theory’ actress Bialik is teaming with DC Entertainment on a project that joins superhero power to the power of science. 
(Derek Charm/DC Comics via AP, left, and AP Photo)

The former “Blossom” star shared an image on Instagram as she got her hands dirty while fixing her mother’s bathroom drains. She joked that this is what happens once a person is unemployed after being on a major show.

CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP

“Well folks. What’s unemployment like? It’s like being a plumber for my mom,” she captioned a series of images at the time showing her in sweats with no makeup pulling sludge, hair and grime out of a bath and sink drain.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Posted on

How the Karen Meme Confronts History of White Womanhood

When you look up the hashtag #Karen on Instagram, a search that yields over 773,000 posts, the featured image on the page is a screenshot of a white woman staring intensely into the camera, pursing her lips into a smile as she touches a finger to her chin, a movement that’s at once condescending and cloying.

The woman’s name is Lisa Alexander, but on the Internet, she’s most recognized as the “San Francisco Karen,” after a clip went viral of her last week, in which she demands to know if James Juanillo, who was stenciling “Black Lives Matter” in chalk on the front of his own home, was defacing private property. The video showed Juanillo, who identified himself in a social media caption as a person of color, telling Alexander and her partner that they should call the police if they felt he was breaking the law. He later told ABC7 News that the couple called the police, who he says recognized him as the resident instantly. While Juanillo was fortunate to have been recognized and unharmed, calls like this could result in injury or worse, death.

For Alexander, however, going viral as a Karen brought major consequences; she and her partner were both identified by their full names by online sleuths, which resulted in her skincare business being boycotted and her partner getting fired from his job. Both Alexander and her partner released apology statements to ABC7 News; in Alexander’s apology, she expresses regret for her behavior: “When I watch the video I am shocked and sad that I behaved the way I did. It was disrespectful to Mr. Juanillo and I am deeply sorry for that.”

The video of Alexander is one of a myriad of other videos, images and memes that have emerged in the last few months of “Karens,” a slang term for middle-aged white women (which seems to have stemmed from the popular “Can I speak to a manager?” meme,) who have become infamous online for their shameless displays of entitlement, privilege, and racism — and their tendency to call the police when they don’t get what they want.

The archetype of the Karen has risen to outstanding levels of notoriety in recent weeks, thanks to a flood of footage that’s become increasingly more violent and disturbing. There’s the Karen who was recorded spewing multiple racist tirades against Asian Americans in a park in Torrance, Calif., upon which the Internet discovered that she had a history of discriminatory outbursts, earning her the title of “Ultra Karen.” There’s the Karen in Los Angeles who used two hammers to damage her neighbors’ car as she told them to “get the fck out of this neighborhood.” There’s the Karen who purposely coughed on someone who called her out for not wearing a mask while at a coffee shop in New York City.

And perhaps most notably, there’s Amy Cooper, the “Central Park Karen,” who elevated a national discourse about the dangers associated when Black people are falsely accused when she called the police on Christian Cooper (no relation,) a Black man who merely asked her to leash her dog in a part of Central Park that required it, invoking his race on the call. Within days after the video of Cooper was shared to Twitter, Cooper was fired from her job and had her dog confiscated. In comments shared after the incident with CNN, Cooper said that she wanted to “publicly apologize to everyone” and claimed that she was “not a racist” and “did not mean to harm that man in any way.” In an interview with ABC7 News, Christian Cooper accepted her apology, but urged for viewers to focus on not just the viral clip, but the “underlying current of racism and racial perceptions.”

Visuals of Karens exploiting their privilege when things don’t go their way have become Internet shorthand of late for a particular kind of racial violence white women have instigated for centuries — following a long and troubling legacy of white women in the country weaponizing their victimhood.

A reckoning begins in Central Park and Minneapolis

“One of the things that has worked throughout American history is finding a way to project whiteness in need of defense or protection,” says Dr. André Brock, associate professor of Black digital culture at Georgia Tech University whose research is leading the conversation on the impact of Black Twitter. “For men, it’s a fight; for women, it’s calling men to help on their behalf or demonstrating that they are so frail that they cannot handle the weight. So in this moment, where we’ve been trapped in our house for six weeks with nothing to do but feel, [so] when you see these videos, you have nothing else to do but watch them and see people’s reactions to them...a grievance for white women and white people, but also an anger by people that even if they are white, can see the injustice of the situation.”

Related Stories

Keep up to date with our daily coronavirus newsletter by clicking here.

Brock said that the viral widespread resonance of Karen” footage now is the result of an interest convergence where the coronavirus pandemic intersected with collective outrage over police brutality. The weekend that the video of Amy Cooper in Central Park went viral was the same weekend that George Floyd was killed after now-former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck, suffocating him. The Central Park video only highlighted the extreme violence — and potentially fatal consequences — of a white woman selfishly calling the cops out of spite and professed fear.

In a larger sense, the mainstreaming of calling out the danger that white women and their tears pose has been building up to this moment. There’s the oft-cited stat that 52% of white women voted for Donald Trump in the 2016 election. Meanwhile, the constant lies of white women like Kellyanne Conway and Sarah Huckabee Sanders in service of the Trump Administration have made it abundantly clear that white women can and are often complicit in oppressive systems. Coupled with the rise of social media and the smartphone camera, the longtime narrative of white women as helpless victims in need of protection is now being challenged by video evidence of them as instigators of not only conflict, but violence.

Karens take on a new meaning during a global health crisis

The Cooper incident and Floyd’s death came in the wake of a couple months’ worth of Karen memes and videos that were already trending thanks to the new restrictions instituted because of the coronavirus pandemic. The clips documented the many encounters people had with white women who openly flouted COVID-19 health and safety measures like wearing a mask or social distancing.

The extreme pertinence of the Karen meme right now is significant, given that the meme had already been making the rounds online for quite some time. Although the Karen meme appears to have existed since at least 2017 on Reddit, according to Adam Downer, associate editor at Know Your Meme, the current iteration of the meme is taking on a new meaning that speaks to the sobering real-life consequences of what began as just a joke on the Internet about bad haircuts and entitlement.

“When it got to the protests and the avalanche of incidents where white ladies were calling the cops, that’s where it began to get a bit more menacing,” Downer says. “I think when people started pointing out who a Karen in real life was, like the ‘Can I speak to the manager?’ figure and starting to zero in on the exact kind of person they were talking about, it became a lot easier to see those types of people in real life.”

How the Karen meme relates to the violent history of white women

The historical narrative of white women’s victimhood goes back to myths that were constructed during the era of American slavery. Black slaves were posited as sexual threats to the white women, the wives of slave owners; in reality, slave masters were the ones raping their slaves. This ideology, however, perpetuated the idea that white women, who represented the good and the moral in American society, needed to be protected by white men at all costs, thus justifying racial violence towards Black men or anyone that posed a threat to their power. This narrative that was the overarching theme of Birth of a Nation, the 1915 film that was the first movie to be shown at the White House, and is often cited as the inspiration for the rebirth of the KKK.

“If we’re thinking about this in a historical context where white women are given the power over Black men, that their word will be valued over a Black man, that makes it particularly dangerous and that’s the problem,” says Dr. Apryl Williams, an assistant professor in communications and media at the University of Michigan and a Fellow at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard who focuses on race, gender and community in digital spaces.

“White women are positioned as the virtue of society because they hold that position as the mother, as the keepers of virtuosity, all these ideologies that we associate with white motherhood and white women in particular, their certain role in society gives them power and when you couple that with this racist history, where white women are afraid of black men and black men are hypersexualized and seen as dangerous, then that’s really a volatile combination.”

Williams says the exposure is challenging this position. “That’s part of what people aren’t seeing is that white women do have this power and they’re exercising that power when they call or threaten to call the police.”

As might be expected, the Internet has found a way to jest about this power dynamic, but the very nature of a humorous approach presents a risk by downplaying the threat. The violent history is why Williams cautions against letting the at-times humorous nature of Karen memes minimize the ways in which white womanhood has long posed danger to Black and brown lives.

“On the one hand, the humor is a way of dealing with the pain of the violence, so in that way it’s helpful, but on the other hand, the cutesy-ness or the laughability sort of minimizes or masks the fact that these women are essentially engaging in violence,” she says. “The fact that Amy Cooper is saying, ‘I’m going to call the police and tell them that a African-American man is threatening my life’ is a very racially violent statement and a racially violent act, especially if you look at it in a larger, broader historical context, and think about the way that Emmett Till’s accuser [Carolyn Bryant] did the same exact thing and it resulted in his death.”

That’s not to say that memes aren’t ultimately beneficial, however. According to Williams, Karen memes can serve different purposes for different audiences. For white people, it can help them recognize a pattern of behavior that they don’t want to be a part of it, but might be complicit in and can be an easier way to have a conversation about white fragility, entitlement and privilege; it also holds them accountable for racism. For Black people, the memes can act as a news source, evidence, and an archive of the injustices, the attempts to control bodies and situations, or as Brock puts it, “microaggressions that often scale to macroagressions when the police are called in.”

How the Karen meme is pushing for change offline

“Memes have power above and beyond just humor,” says Brock. “We often use metaphor, which is often at the heart of memes, and emotion or affect to make shorthand of things which deeply affect us. A lot of times, it’s funny; a lot of times, it’s cathartic; and other times, it’s racist. I try to push back on the idea that memes are frivolous way of articulating a particular phenomenon because in many ways, it’s much more potent shorthand than me trying to explain to you exactly the way people are reacting to a certain situation...Social media is a platform for communicating feelings and the stronger the feeling, the more viral things go.”

Brock’s belief that memes have lasting power beyond the breakneck speed of going viral is echoed by Williams, who makes the case that along with the popular alliterative memes like “BBQ Becky” and “Permit Patty” that call out white people for calling 911 or the police on innocent Black civilians who just want to grill in the park in peace or 8-year-old Black girls selling water on the sidewalk, Karen memes can be seen as part of a genre that she calls “Black activist memes.”

Williams said the accounts of the real people who have experienced the racism documented in these memes and the hashtag, #LivingWhileBlack, are helping to demand accountability and are actually helping to push forward legislation, like the Oregon bill that was passed in 2019 that punishes racist 911 callers. She likens them to a stand-in for Black-owned newspapers and Black presses, commenting on racial inequality in a way that might not be covered otherwise.

“These memes are actually doing logical and political work of helping us get to legal changes or legislative changes, which is really something to be said,” says Williams. “While of course, they aren’t a standalone movement on their own, they actively call out white supremacy and call for restitution. They really do that work of highlighting and sort of commenting on the racial inequality in a way that mainstream news doesn’t capture.”

Please send any tips, leads, and stories to virus@time.com.

Write to Cady Lang at cady.lang@timemagazine.com.

Posted on

Police Reform: McConnell Blasts Schumer For ‘acting like Senator Scott hardly exists’

Senate Democrats blocked Wednesday the passage of a police reform bill led by Senator Tim Scott, R-SC, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had a few things to say about the move to the opposing party before the Senate on Thursday. In his remarks, McConnell singled out Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-NY, for ignoring Scott while “trashing” the bill he worked tirelessly to amend for the Democrats’ requests.

“I could not help but notice that in the Democratic Leader’s lengthy remarks yesterday morning, he did not once address or acknowledge the junior Senator for South Carolina as the author of the JUSTICE Act,” McConnell said. “Not one time did the Democratic Leader address Senator Tim Scott as the author of the legislation he was trashing.”

“I cannot see why the Democratic Leader talks right past Senator Scott as if he were not leading this discussion, as if he were barely here. All I can say is that it was jarring to witness, especially in a national moment like this.”

McConnell added that Scott had been working diligently to push police reform bills for years, saying “Senator Scott led the working group. He wrote the bill. He has been studying, and working on, and living these issues since long before the Democratic Leader came rushing to the microphones on this subject a few weeks ago.

“I can certainly take all the angry comments my colleague from New York wants to throw my way. I don’t mind,” he said. “But if he’d like to learn something about the substance of this issue, he might want to stop acting like Senator Scott hardly exists and learn from the expert who wrote the bill.”

Sen. Scott recognized the issues Senate Democrats had with the bill and later offered an amendment to include every one of their concerns. “We received a letter from Senator Schumer, saying there were five things about the Justice Act that did not meet their principles. My response was a simple one, let’s have five amendments on those things,” Scott said Wednesday.

Further, Scott said he met with a number of Democratic Senators who said there were additional issues outside of the five presented by Sen. Schumer. “So, I said, let’s include an amendment for every single issue you have. They did not stick around for that meeting,” he added.

“I respect people that I disagree with, they have the right to disagree. My pastor tells me I have the right to be wrong, which means I’m not right all the time. But, on this one, if you don’t think we’re right, make it better, don’t walk away, vote for the motion to proceed so that we have an opportunity to deal with this very real threat to the America that is civil, that is balanced, this is an opportunity to say yes, not to us, to those folks who are waiting for leadership to stand and be counted.”

Posted on

Republican Senator Blocks His Own China-Hong Kong Sanctions Bill For Trump

As much as I hate to resort to Intertoobz cliché: LOL WHUT?

In merciful brief, Kevin Cramer, a Republican from North Dakota whom most of us wouldn’t recognize if he sat in our laps, signed up to co-sponsor a bill that would whack China for its repressive tactics in Hong Kong. Two weeks later, after complaints from Camp Runamuck, Cramer objected and denied unanimous consent on…his…own…bill. From Politico:

“Even for us, this is dysfunctional,” Cramer acknowledged on Wednesday [Ed. Note: You think?], a week after he objected to the bill’s unanimous passage on the Senate floor, after a last-minute plea from the Trump administration. According to Cramer, the White House and State Department proposed a series of “technical” corrections to the bill only a half-hour before Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) was set to ask for unanimous consent to pass his bill, the Hong Kong Autonomy Act. Cramer defended his decision to block the legislation, saying he hopes the bill eventually passes but that he wanted to try to “accommodate” the Trump administration’s concerns.

Cramer goes on to explain that the White House asked him specifically to be the one who hit the self-destruct mechanism, which perhaps tells us more about the senator than he thinks it does. He could have said no, but he didn’t. The White House could have asked any other one of its 50-odd lickspittles in the upper chamber, but they didn’t. Do I think they picked Cramer specifically to show him that, in LBJ’s immortal phrase, his pecker was in their pocket? Why ever would I think such a thing?

President Donald Trump has come under fire for his posture toward China, including recent scrutiny over allegations made by former national security adviser, John Bolton, who claims in his new book that the president sought political favors from Chinese President Xi Jinping. Bolton writes that Trump even encouraged Xi to continue building detention camps for religious minorities, most notably the Uighur Muslims, in the country’s Xinjiang region.

Imagine if the Senate had a majority leader that cared about more than jamming his former staffers onto the federal bench. The Senate makes up for being a rubber-stamp by being invisible on every other major issue, and it no longer can be viewed as an institution dedicated to public service. Probably would be worse if Mitch McConnell weren’t such a genius.

Respond to this post on the Esquire Politics Facebook page here.

This content is created and maintained by a third party, and imported onto this page to help users provide their email addresses. You may be able to find more information about this and similar content at piano.io

This commenting section is created and maintained by a third party, and imported onto this page. You may be able to find more information on their web site.

Posted on

Fiorina signals she’ll vote for Biden over Trump

“I am encouraged that Joe Biden is a person of humility and empathy and character,” she added. “I think he’s demonstrated that through his life.”

Fiorina, who served as CEO of Hewlett-Packard before launching failed bids for the Senate in California in 2010 and the White House in 2016, previously divulged during a podcast interview with The Bulwark in May that she would not vote for Trump.

Fiorina had been open to supporting the president’s reelection effort as recently as December 2019, when she argued that it was “vital” Trump be impeached by the House of Representatives but refused to rule out voting for him in 2020.

Although Fiorina voted for Trump in 2016, the two candidates feuded bitterly in that year’s Republican nominating contest, with Trump mocking Fiorina’s physical appearance and Fiorina dismissing Trump as the “Kim Kardashian of politics.”

After Fiorina dropped out of the primary in February 2016, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz announced two months later that he would select her as his running mate should he triumph in the race for the Republican nomination.

He did not, instead withdrawing from the primary less than a week after tapping Fiorina as his prospective vice presidential nominee and finishing as the runner-up to Trump.

In July 2016, Cruz was booed off the floor of the Republican National Convention for urging GOP voters to “vote your conscience,” and has since become a vocal defender of the president in Congress.

Posted on

In 2020, President Trump Must Drain the Swamp One Last Time

President Donald Trump speaks at a joint news conference with Polish President Andrzej Duda in the Rose Garden of the White House on June 24, 2020, in Washington, D.C.

Since his election, President Trump has sought to dismantle the political establishment in Washington, D.C. “Drain the Swamp” is now a rallying cry for a reason.

And he is doing just that. According to a new report, the Trump administration is rolling back the regulatory state, slashing 4.3 rules for every one created. At the same time, the Trump administration continues to purge federal agencies of career bureaucrats who are failing to advance the “America First” agenda.

But the Washington swamp is resilient. Former Defense Secretary James Mattis recently lashed out at his former employer, claiming President Trump is “mak[ing] a mockery of our Constitution” for defending law and order at a time of social unrest. Republican Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah, a fervent anti-Trumper, also toed the establishment line: He not only refused to support President Trump’s re-election campaign but also denounced the ongoing Hunter Biden probe as politically motivated.

Apparently, being anti-Trump means acting like a Democrat.

Unfortunately, parts of the Washington swamp have oozed their way back into President Trump’s orbit. In 2016, President Trump had no “official” super PAC. Various political organizations, including my own Great America PAC, competed to best serve the Trump election.

TRENDING: AP, NPR, Others Fan Divisive Flames with Remarkably Similar, Despicable Headlines on Police Shooting

That competition worked. In 2016, Great America PAC emerged as America’s top pro-Trump super PAC, because our competitors brought out the best in us. This helped President Trump win 63 million votes in the process.

However, times change. For the past three and a half years, the “official” America First Action PAC has not been exposed to the same competition to sharpen its approach and help serve President Trump to the utmost. While America First is on the right side of the political debate, the PAC’s establishment mindset—evident in its spending inefficiency—makes it an ineffective servant to the re-election of President Trump.

According to the most recent campaign finance reports, America First spends nearly half of its funds to cover operating costs. About 50 cents of every dollar contributed is spent on voter contact that actually supports President Trump and other Republicans.

This is an uncommon strategy for a super PAC devoted to re-electing the president. Great America PAC, for example, spends 18 percent of its funds to cover operating and fundraising costs, leaving millions of dollars for direct pro-Trump advocacy.

Do you think President Trump needs to drain the swamp one more time?

In his fight against the Washington swamp, President Trump needs anything but an establishment-style super PAC carrying his water. Nor does he need an “official” pro-Trump PAC courting $1 million contributions from Georgia Sen. Kelly Loeffler’s husband while she is caught up in an insider trading scandal. Loeffler is also running against Georgia Rep. Doug Collins, one of President Trump’s most ardent and effective backers during the impeachment process.

For a pro-Trump super PAC to align itself with the unelected Sen. Loeffler only diminishes President Trump’s swamp-draining credibility.

To maximize their impact, pro-Trump super PACs must also balance their critiques of Biden’s platform with a defense of the Trump agenda. Attacking Biden is part of the strategy, but President Trump needs to be proactively protected from the liberal media’s daily attacks.

Of the $18 million in spending reported by America First, only $45,000 (0.2 percent) has been in support of President Trump. This is simply not enough.

Fortunately, President Trump knows all of this. The Trump re-election campaign is thought to be in the midst of a major reshuffling in an attempt to get back on message. Perhaps America First needs the same reshuffling.

RELATED: Herman Cain: I Was There, And the Tulsa Trump Rally Crowd Was Huge and Enthusiastic

As the manager for President Reagan’s 1984 re-election campaign, I have a keen understanding of the balance President Trump and his campaign must strike. They must reclaim the message that won him the White House, tout the significant progress made during his first term, and emphasize the need to continue that progress beyond 2020. All the while, the Trump campaign must retain its credibility by resisting the temptation of the establishment and its high-dollar donations.

It is not easy to weave these critical components together into a clear and compelling strategy. But it can and must be done. There is simply too much at stake, with America at a socioeconomic crossroads and a mentally unfit Democratic candidate vying for a return to his hazy memories of the Obama days.

For President Trump, recapturing his 2016 magic can only happen by going back to his roots. And that means rejecting the Washington swamp — one last time.

The views expressed in this opinion article are those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by the owners of this website.

We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.

Posted on

‘We cannot flunk this moment’: Black Caucus looks to deliver

“It’s true,” House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) said of the CBC’s mounting influence in the current political landscape. “But only because — for the first time — people are able to visualize what the CBC has been trying to talk about for a long time.”

“All of a sudden, these [videos]are out there. And people are beginning to see what we’ve been seeing for a long, long time,” Clyburn added.

Clyburn, the highest ranking African American in Congress, was pivotal in helping secure the Democratic presidential nomination for Joe Biden with a decisive victory in the South Carolina primary. Black voters remain the bedrock of Biden’s base heading into the November election.

The videotaped killing of George Floyd and the huge outpouring of support for BLM has also brought to the forefront a much more aggressive group of progressive activists who are not satisfied with incrementalism.

These activists are willing to tear down political shibboleths as much as they’re willing to tear down statues of once-venerated Americans. And that puts the CBC, not to mention the broader Democratic Party, in a political bind: They need to deliver results now.

Rep. Karen Bass, who is in her second year as chair of the CBC, spent years as a civil rights activist in Los Angeles — where she was sometimes harassed by the city’s police officers — before launching her political career in California. The five-term Democrat said she understands the pressure from protesters in the streets calling for more drastic action than what’s in the policing bill being considered on the House floor Thursday.

“It is the role of an activist to push us as far as they can push us. It is our role to legislate, and that is a different role,” Bass said in an interview. “It takes an outside and an inside strategy to bring about change. We work on the inside, we know what is realistic. We are very committed to making a difference, and that is different than making a point. You can either make a point, or you can make a difference.”

Bass — who saw her home city torn apart by riots after the Rodney King beating nearly 30 years ago — said she and her colleagues in the CBC must craft a response that can actually pass, or risk squandering the chance entirely.

“Personally, I always want to do more. But again, I want to be successful with the legislation,” Bass said.

Bass and other members of the CBC said they recognize the immensity of this moment and the spotlight their caucus has after years of feeling like leaders in both parties didn’t prioritize issues facing Black Americans. That includes some of the same policing measures that the House is preparing to pass, including a ban on chokeholds and language to make it easier to sue police officers for misconduct.

“We have had, for years, individual members of the Black Caucus who have submitted legislation, and it was kind of just, ‘Yeah, yeah, we hear you.’ People sign on, but it doesn’t go anywhere,” said Rep. Brenda Lawrence (D-Mich.).

“Now, to actually see members of Congress look to us for leadership, look to us for direction, for advice, and counting on us to help get this right — there’s a tremendous amount of, I would say, pressure, I say that personally, that we make a difference and we get this right,” Lawrence said.

For some, the challenge is bigger than any in the CBC’s history.

“Make no mistake, this is a CBC moment. This is what those founders wanted to have in place at a time of crisis,” said Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.), a former chair of the group.

“We have been placed on center stage of this American racial and justice moment. … Things are in place and we cannot flunk this moment,” he added, noting the scores of young activists who continue to demonstrate across the country as they look to the CBC for guidance and change.

The CBC had already been “all hands on deck” this spring, as members described it, as the coronavirus pandemic disproportionately hit Black communities. Its members were deeply involved in the House’s multitrillion dollar pandemic relief bills, pushing hard to ensure money went to the neediest families and to minority-owned businesses that already struggled with access to capital.

Floyd’s death in late May — and the national reckoning on race that has followed — put the CBC even more squarely in focus. Clyburn, Bass and other senior Black Democrats immediately took the lead on the legislative response, with white lawmakers, including Speaker Nancy Pelosi, intentionally staying on the sidelines.

“In this moment, the CBC is known not only as the ‘conscience of the Congress,’ but really, the place where action is happening. It’s not just a moral compass question. It is, ‘How do we act? How do we respond?’” Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-Del.) said in an interview.

Still, the House bill faces slim odds of being passed in the Senate, which deadlocked over a narrower GOP proposal Wednesday. Real policing reform, Democrats say, may not come until after November if they can take back the White House and Senate — a reality that may further frustrate activists.

Meanwhile, the CBC has been undergoing its own changes, as its members and those of the House Democratic Caucus at large skew younger and more progressive.

Some of the most prominent members of the organization — John Conyers, Elijah Cummings and Charles Rangel — have retired or died. The 80-year-old Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), a hero of the civil rights movement, has been battling pancreatic cancer.

Yet after the 2018 elections, the CBC’s ranks grew by nine, including trailblazing members from suburban Connecticut and upstate New York representing majority-white districts.

The CBC’s ranks are poised to grow even further in 2020, particularly as the scourge of anger over systemic racism begins to seep into this year’s elections. Several Black candidates saw an unexpected surge in Tuesday’s primaries with several winning in landslides. Two candidates in New York are likely to become the first openly gay Black members of Congress.

Among the successful Black candidates on Tuesday was Jamaal Bowman, a liberal challenger who appears to have knocked down 31-year incumbent Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.). This came despite Engel’s backing from the CBC.

It wasn’t unusual for the CBC to back Engel, a longtime white ally, over a Black candidate in his primary. Commitment to seniority has long been a bedrock CBC principle — a necessary system, they argued, to ensure that Black lawmakers are able to assume their rightful leadership roles within the caucus, instead of being passed over for less senior white members, as in decades past.

But that seniority system has been repeatedly questioned in recent years, with members no longer content to wait decades to become committee chairs or party leaders. And those younger members have questioned the value of a system that has kept some older Democrats in leadership positions long after they stop being effective just to maintain seniority.

Most recently the issue has popped up on the campaign trail, with the CBC facing criticism for endorsing white incumbents over Black primary challengers. The CBC took heat for backing white Rep. Mike Capuano over Black challenger Ayanna Pressley in 2018, and once again in this cycle for supporting Engel over Bowman.

Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-N.Y.), chairman of the CBC’s campaign arm, staunchly defended the decision to support Engel and other white incumbents over Black challengers. Engel, Meeks said, has fought for years against police brutality in his Bronx district. And just because it is now a majority-minority district, that shouldn’t automatically disqualify a white candidate, Meeks added.

“He went to jail, he fought … he was out there supporting those issues in those times. So that means something, you don’t throw that away,” Meeks said. “You judge a person based upon the merit of their service. So if you earn it, that’s who we support.”

Other CBC members now say its endorsement policy should be reevaluated, even as they acknowledge the internal struggle over shunning a long-time Democrat — who may have been a strong advocate for the Black community — in support of a Black challenger.

“We’re hard-pressed to say that we don’t want someone because of the color of their skin to continue to serve. Having gone through so many times we’ve been excluded. It is hard,” Lawrence added.

But Lawrence said she would encourage the CBC to withhold endorsements in certain races in the future, for instance, if there is a “qualified African American challenger” running against an incumbent.

“Black candidates are running and fighting and qualified to run for office,” said Lawrence, who fought in a tough primary herself before coming to Congress. “We are going to have to look at that.”